Biography of John I. Gilbert
Franklin County, NY Biographies





John Ingersoll Gilbert, born at Pittsford, Vt., October 11, 1837, came to Malone in 1861 to become principal of Franklin Academy, in which position he served for six years with great acceptability to the trustees of the institution and with marked satisfaction and incalculable benefit to his pupils. I question if there was ever one of the latter who in mature years could recall any teather who had helped him as much as Mr. Gilbert, or for whom a greater admiration and a profounder respect abided. Naturally impetuous and quick to wrath, he yet had an infinity of patience with even the dullest student who was trying honestly to do his duty and master his work. He was thorough, and invested his work in the class room with an interest and, charm that evoked the earnest attention of pupils and went far to develop their minds. Upon the conclusion of his service as principal of the academy, Mr. Gilbert opened a law office in Malone, and continued actively in practice until his death. By temperament and habit of thought he was far better adapted to appeals work than to the trial of cases, for he was inclined to insistence upon reaching the crux of a question as directly as possible, and it irked him to be under compulsion to give attention to the technicalities of procedure. The merits of a case outweighed everything else, and the mere rules of practice seemed non essentials. Had he had connections which would have made his work mainly a study of principles and of argument before the higher tribunals his abilities must have assured him a rank with the foremost members of the bar. Intensely interested in public policies and problems of government, Mr. Gilbert was as positive a partisan as there was in the State, and for thirty years or more was "on the stump" in every important campaign for the Republican cause. Of profound scholarship, as a speaker he measured his words with marvelous accuracy and with the finest shades of meaning, and, though he never reduced more than two or three addresses to writing, every speech that he made was of a finish and dovetailing that gave occasion for no revision for publication. When indignant over a wrong or a sham every syllable cut like a rapier, and his emphasis of "infamous," "damnable" and other like characterizing words gave each its full and penetrating significance. Mr. Gilbert had neither taste nor aptitude for political management, and all of the recognition that he ever had in a public way came to him solely because of his intellectuality and belief in his moral fibre. He served three terms in the Assembly and one in the Senate, was a delegate at large to the Republican national convention in 1884, was defeated as a candidate for secretary of State in 1891, and was a member of the constitutional convention of 1894. He served also for a number of years as a member of the board of education of the village school district of Malone, and for a long time was president of the board of trustees of the Northern New York Institution for Deaf Mutes. In the Legislature Mr. Gilbert was a man of mark and force from the first, and always stood squarely and immovably for measures that promised good to the State. He died December 19, 1904.

From:
Historical Sketches of Franklin County
and its several towns.
By: Frederick J. Seaver Malone, New York.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers Albany, NY 1918.


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